Wednesday, June 29, 2022

State Waits For Signs of Life In Southern Congress Battle; 2020 Was Epic; 2022? Not So Much; Vasquez Vs. Herrell Slow Out Of The Gate; Will National Dems Come In? Plus: Latest Downtown Bailout Plan From ABQ Mayor Draws Fire  

Gabe Vasquez
When it comes to the battle for the southern congressional seat the state is waiting for a foot to drop--any foot. The race between freshman GOP Rep. Yvette Herrell and Dem Gabe Vasquez has flown under the radar for this first month of the campaign (if you can even say flown; there were few signs of life).

That contrasts with 2020 when, believe it or not, the contest for the mostly rural district turned out to be the most expensive House race in the nation, with an incredible $37 million in candidate and outside funding being spent as Herrell faced off with Rep. Xochitl Torres Small and took the prize 54 to 46. 

With a full month of this campaign almost gone, that kind of frenzied spending seems unlikely this time. In fact, the low-key nature of the race thus far has raised questions about how passionate the Dems are about flipping the seat. 

The race is on the list of key ones kept by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). They have issued a "a research book" heavy with negative information on Herrell and this week slammed her in a news release for urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe which they have now done. 

The issue is money and whether the Vasquez candidacy will be supported in a big way. 

Herrell operatives are circulating word that Dems are preoccupied trying to keep so many threatened incumbent seats in play that they may essentially take a pass on Vasquez and let the chips fall where they may. Those incumbent Dems are called "frontline members" and there are now about 40 on the list, including northern US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, although her race is not yet seen as competitive. 

Vasquez is on the DCCC's "Red To Blue" program list which promises financial support and other assistance but that is not a guarantee.

The DCCC not going all in would be surprising since under redistricting CD2 moved from being a GOP performing district to one where the Democrats should outperform the Republican by two percent. And the national pundits all rate the race a toss-up. 

Then there's Sen. Heinrich. The First Endorser is firmly in the camp of former Las Cruces Councilor Vasquez who once worked for him and can be expected to champion his cause with the donor class. 

But if congressional reps with major seniority are fighting for their lives it may be difficult for Heinrich or anyone else to persuade the party to get anywhere near the level of spending of 2020.

The National GOP Congressional Committee has taken notice of Vasquez, painting him as anti-law enforcement and calling him "one of the worst recruits of the cycle."

Rep. Herrell
Herrell is acting like nothing has happened. She has doubled down on her ultraconservatism on guns and abortion, signaling that she plans on landsliding Vasquez in the many conservative areas of the district to make up for his likely win in Cruces and perhaps the westside precincts of ABQ that are in the new district.

Vasquez thinks he has a howitzer to fire over Herrell's vote against certifying the 2020 election for Biden and that the Dem faithful will respond to that with a rebuke of the incumbent. 

But there is skepticism about Vasquez. He is not a known name and obviously not a woman as was Torres Small which some consultants believe would make a better fit against Herrell. Dem State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill toyed with the idea of running but backed off when Heinrich made the move for Vasquez.

There has been no public polling on the Herrell-Vasquez contest.

In July Vaquez will have to start persuading donors that the national Dems will do what it takes to take back the district. If another month goes by with no clear signal that DC really cares, Herrell's operatives may start whispering "we told you so."


Rob Kurz
There were four more homicides in ABQ this past weekend putting the city on track to match or exceed the record 119 slayings of 2021. That's the same weekend that ABQ Mayor Tim Keller delivered his state of the city address. That he can't catch a break in the violent crime fight is an understatement. 

He admitted as much in his speech, saying that crime casts a shadow over the city. He pointed to COVID as a reason ABQ's crime fighting progress has not been as robust as he hoped, but the city was not knocking the cover off the ball pre-Covid when it came to the violence. 

We seem to be in a new era where drug infestation has become a part of everyday life for thousands of residents and is now entrenched in the local economy thus the many murders involving drug use and dealing. 

Against that backdrop Keller last November scored a resounding re-election win, raising the question of how effective the Republican effort to make crime and punishment a major issue in the Guv's race will be. 

Have citizens become numbed to the ongoing murders? Do they feel insulated from them since so many of them take place among criminals or criminal circumstances and don't directly impact their neighborhood? 

Meantime, Keller is once again trying to scale back the crime that haunts the hopes of a comeback for Downtown ABQ. But asking property owners there to pay more for extra police protection to help that cause has caused a backlash. After all, at Keller's urging the city raised a public safety tax when he first came into office and city coffers are surging with excess revenue. 

Reader and businessman Rob Kurz is one of many who describes himself as "livid" over the proposal and comes with this:

The ridiculous "plan" is based on several false assumptions: That providing police protection to businesses downtown is for the benefit of individual business owners and not the safety of the community as a whole. We either want a thriving downtown area or we should abandon it. 

Based on the commitment of the City, business owners should abandon downtown forthwith. Business owners and citizens are already paying taxes for police services--$255 million or one-third of the entire ABQ budget. That is $454.99 per resident compared to $341 per resident for the city of Phoenix. 

There is enough money, just terrible mismanagement or worse, incompetence. If business owners must pay for policing over and above their taxes they should hire their own police department, manage it themselves and get a tax rebate.

I see no plan stated as to how the money will be used or what will actually be done to police the downtown area. As usual, there is no plan. 

Keller's statement: "We're here to help them and we're going to get started, but they cannot be dependent on the City of Albuquerque to continue to do everything for them every year" is an expression of complete ignorance. 

Safety, order, and protection are among the most basic reasons for the existence of government. The City takes us for idiots. More money is not the issue, there is a lack of will and commitment as evidenced by the statements of both Keller and APD Chief Medina. It is time for them to simply do their job., 

The only other question is, why is the ABQ Chamber of Commerce supporting such insanity?

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.  

website design by limwebdesign